No great movie is complete without a sequel. After winning the big tournament, The Karate Kid Part II sees Daniel off to Okinawa to help Mr. Miyagi take care of some family business but finds himself learning some hard-earned lessons about honor and respect with another climactic final battle. Not as strong as the first film, but still pretty good and a worthy sequel. Currently exclusive to The Karate Kid Collection set, The Karate Kid Part II comes home with an excellent native 4K Dolby Vision Transfer with an active engaging Atmos mix. Bonus features aren’t plentiful, but the new Macchio/Tomita commentary track is a great listen! Highly Recommended
After winning the All Valley Karate Tournament, troubled yoot Daniel (Ralph Macchio) and Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) receive bad news about Miyagi’s estranged father’s declining health. After getting dumped by his girlfriend and now school Daniel sets off with Miyagi to Okinawa. There they encounter Sato (Danny Kamekona), Miyagi’s former best friend and bitter rival who still harbors his old hatred. To compound issues, Daniel falls for the beautiful Kumiko (Tamlyn Tomita) sparking a new rivalry of his own with the headstrong Chozen (Yuji Okumoto) who leads Sato’s karate dojo.
You can’t fault everyone involved for wanting to recapture the magic of The Karate Kid. A cultural phenomenon, it was a massive box office success and practically demanded a sequel. While they could have gone the simple “more but the same” route of so many sequels, this outing shakes things up. Leaving Los Angeles for Okinawa (actually shot in Hawaii), Daniel gets to be the fish-out-of-water again learning about a new culture. The focus isn’t strictly about Karate training or tournaments or fights. In fact, the art of Karate actually takes a bit of a back seat to the more important lesson of conflict management. Sato and Chozen frequently challenge Miyagi and antagonize Daniel - but a fight isn’t what Miyagi wants. He wants peace and lives to the openhand ethos of Karate.
Where this particular adventure comes apart for me is during the final duel between the honor-stricken Chozen and Daniel. It’s a brutal sequence with high stakes. It’s no tournament and the last man standing may be the only one breathing. It’s a hallmark of the franchise to have Daniel come back from behind in the final fight, so we’re expecting something grand in line with the iconic Crane Kick. A special drum had been the motif throughout the film and part of Daniel’s new technique training and how it comes into play here is just baffling. The problem is the move is shot in closeup to his face, so other than the implication Daniel is twisting side-to-side, we don’t get that payoff of actually seeing what is going on. Is he blocking attacks and counter-punching? Or is he just flailing his limbs and somehow kicking ass?
The final battle notwithstanding, I still feel The Karate Kid Part II is an underappreciated sequel. I appreciate Avildsen not wanting to do the same thing twice. The idea of a “rematch” with Martin Kove’s John Kreese and the Cobra Kai is dispatched quickly and the film moves on. Moving the action out of Los Angeles gives the film a new sense of wonder and cultural appreciation - even if it was shot in Hawaii. It’s not as good as the first, but it’s certainly far from a low point. Plus Peter Cetera's song Glory of Love is the perfect 80s earworm.
Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
The Karate Kid Part II travels to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray for the first time exclusively as part of The Karate Kid Collection. This is a two-disc 4K UHD + Blu-ray set. Pressed on a BD-66 disc, the discs are housed in a standard sturdy 2-disc case with slipcover. The disc loads to Sony’s standard menu structure with bonus features along the right side of the screen and a traditional menu along the bottom.
Not to be outdone by its predecessor, The Karate Kid Part II makes a damned impressive 2160p Dolby Vision debut. Right from the start, the film makes a dynamic presence through the recap footage of the first film to the tournament epilogue where Miyagi faces down Kreese in the parking lot. Detail levels are exceptional. Moving the action out of L.A. to Japan gives the image a different more dynamic setting. The combination of beautiful natural Hawaiian shooting location scenery to the busy bustling streets redressed to look like Japan is impressive. Every little detail is on screen for scrutiny. Film grain has a natural organic appearance without appearing too noisy or intrusive while maintaining a film-like cinematic appearance.
With Dolby Vision HDR the image really comes to life with some brilliant colors, crisp natural whites, and deep inky black levels. With the natural locations and costumes, primaries get a lot of attention. The yellow accents of Chozen’s outfit against Daniel’s red robe during their final battle is a notable highlight. Black levels are in great shape allowing for impressive depth. The typhoon sequence, in particular, is a great example of how well this transfer represents light, darkness, and shadows. Free of any source or encoding issues, this is another terrific addition to the franchise 4K collection.
Like the first film, The Karate Kid Part II comes with an impressive Dolby Atmos mix. As far as the usage of height and space elements, I actually like this mix better than the first film. The beautiful scenic locations allow the film to sound big and spacious. When Daniel tries his twisty drum move with the fish hook, that’s a great effect with overhead activity moving down through the front/center channels and back up into the heights. Likewise, when there are big crowd scenes there’s a lot of raucous activity throughout the channels - Daniel breaking the ice, the big final battle with Chozen, and everyone is twirling their drums are highlights. The big typhoon sequence is a pretty damned impressive wall-to-wall sequence where every channel is active with distinct audio effects. Throughout dialog is clean and clear without issue. The classic Bill Conti score still hits in all the right places for this mix. All around a great track.
While not a huge collection of bonus features, Sony at least gives fans of this sequel a new audio commentary with Ralph Macchio and Tamlyn Tomita to work through. The pair are engaging and keep the track lively. There are a few dropouts - it almost sounds like the track might have gotten snipped by the lawyers before they re-engage. All around a good listen. Also included is a new deleted scene but it’s not all that interesting.
4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
The Karate Kid Part II may not be the best sequel ever made, but it’s a welcome continuation of the first film. Taking the action out of L.A. Karate tournaments and moving it to Japan gives the story some fresh air to breathe. Sony gives this sequel a more than welcome upgrade to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with an often striking 4K Dolby Vision transfer with an engaging and effective Atmos track to match. Bonus features may not be extensive, but the new commentary track is well worth the listen. Highly Recommended